Working With Realtors -
Local Customs, Practices and Realities
Customs and practical considerations affect every business. When working with a Realtor in San Pedro (and other areas in Belize ...... ) knowing and remembering these tips will make your life easier and your real estate search more fun. Doing business in a tourist destination is a little different than other places and has it's own special challenges ......... the Belikin factor is amongst them!
Please DO contact a local broker. Please DO investigate the wonderful opportunities waiting for you in Belize. Please DO ask for, and expect honest service from your broker and if you don't get it, find another broker. There are some great folks in the business and buying property in Belize may be the best thing you ever do.
OFFICE HOURS - Generally 9-12 and 1-5 Weekdays.
Half days Saturdays.
PHONE CALLS -
INTERNATIONAL - Do not expect a return call if you call from out of the country.
Why? Cost of phone calls from here to there is about $1.80 US per minute, and most of our customers want to begin with a lengthy description of the weather. We just can't afford it. If you are a new customer and you want to get serious attention from a broker, DO place a call - they will be impressed with the fact that you are willing to invest a little in the co-operative effort to get the job done.
LOCAL - If you request a return call, leave both a number and a time where you can be reached. If you are staying at a hotel, please tell the front desk staff who you are, where you may be (pool, restaurant, etc.) and advise them that you are expecting a call.
E-MAIL - This is the cheapest and easiest way to communicate with your realtor from afar, but when it gets time for details you should either show up in person or place a phone call.
SHOWING PROPERTY - Days only, appointments preferred. Ask ahead of time how much time the realtor will need to set up the showing - in some cases you may need no advance notice, and in others a day or two may be required. Property in distant locations may require hiring an airplane or chartering a boat. It is customary for customers to pay for such transportation. If you buy a property you have seen this way, it is appropriate to ask to be reimbursed for the cost of the initial showing at closing. Weather affects transportation and access to many properties, as does a fully-booked tourist season (in the case of holiday rentals of condos, etc.). If you want to see property while you are here, please make arrangements to see property early in your stay - that is the only way you will get the time, the attention and the access to property that you seek.
FREAKY FRIDAYS - Typical scenario ....... Tourist arrives in San Pedro on Sunday - relaxes on Monday, dives Tues-Wed-Thurs. Can't dive Friday because they fly on Saturday. Tourist has fallen in love with Belize and wants to buy something. Late in the morning on Friday, after lamenting the pain and heartache of leaving San Pedro behind, the tourist arrives in the real estate office eager to see and perhaps to buy. The office is packed three-deep with people who feel the same way. Realtors who spent all week polishing their desks are now faced with several parties of people all wanting to see property that takes a full day to see and each needing and wanting individual attention. Results - frustration. ADVICE - show up on Monday while you are still getting settled. You'll be glad you did - you may make a new friend, see some great property and will surely get some good advice on how to spend your week.
"THE WEATHER IS TOO BAD TO DIVE..... so I thought I'd look at property". Bad idea. If the weather is too bad to dive it's probably to bad to go out looking at property. Don't get mad at the realtor who tells you this - it's true.
MULTIPLE LISTINGS - This is a tiny community - sometimes the brokers are getting along pretty well and sometimes they are not. This affects the sharing of information. When you ask a broker to show you property, ask them point blank if they are going to show you property listed by other agencies. Go out with them, see if they really do show you other folks' listings, and if they do, be loyal to that agent. You may wish to drop in at other agencies and pick up their brochures - bring them back to your chosen agent to review, to show and to handle inquiries. This will save you time and money. If on the other hand, you learn that the broker has a policy of only showing their own listings, you should be sure to ask agents in other offices to show you property as well.
DISCLOSURE - There is no law or policy regarding affirmative duties of disclosure or representation by agents or agencies. Some agents and agencies do their homework and others do not. Ask lots of questions. Do your own due diligence. Pick the professional who represents you with care. This is good advice no matter where you go.
PROPERTY AVAILABILITY - WHAT'S REALLY FOR SALE?
INTERNET SITES- At the time of this writing, most web-sites for local brokerages had not been updated for several months months. This is due to many factors including a busy season, limitations by internet providers, and the fact that the sites are generally read by people who are primarily looking for an overall sense of prices, size and location anyway.
FOR SALE SIGNS - Once they go up they tend to stay up ........ especially on raw land. If you see a sign on a property it means that the property is either now for sale or used to be ...... ask you agent for specifics.
BROCHURES - Things change every day and an agency cannot keep day to day list updated for hand-outs. Sellers change their minds about prices and terms and forget to tell their agents too. When you pick up a brochure or listings, ask if it's current.
AGENTS - They know what is for sale, and can track down the most current information for you. That is their main job - not planting signs, writing web-sites and typing brochures. Ask them what is for sale - they will tell you and help you see it.
BREAKING DATES... If you have an appointment and are going to be late or not show up at all, please call and let your agent know. (I sincerely hope this concept does not need to be explained further ...... )
DRINKING... Please do your best to be sober when you contact your broker. Property may be prettier after a beer, but drinking and business do not mix.
WE DON'T WORK NIGHTS - The days are beautiful and long enough to get the job done.
AMERICA'S MOST WANTED - If you are wanted by the FBI, Interpol, or an angry and well-armed spouse, please contact an agent in Nicaragua or Brazil. This is kind of a joke and then again it's not.
Obviously not all of this advice applies to each reader ....... take what you can use, and forget the rest. Then book a trip to Belize. It's a nice place to live and a nice place to do business......... you can be a part of it if you wish.
We're already here - the rest is up to you.
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